IFPRI book launch: How trade policies can foster food security

SARA GUSTAFSON | September 11, 2017

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Globalization and free trade remain controversial topics—and one of the most intensely debated issues is the impact of international trade policy on food security, particularly in developing countries. At the recent launch of a new IFPRI book, Agriculture, Development, and the Global Trading System: 2000-2015, participants discussed this complex relationship, focusing on the role of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in making globalization work efficiently and for everyone.

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Will your insurance IT investments pay off?

Article | April 12, 2021

Automated claims processing, price comparison platforms, mobile bill paying—these are just some of the digital services that insurance customers expect and insurers want to provide. As the demand for digital skyrockets, so does the need for insurers to invest in IT. In the past seven years, the share of IT in total operating costs of property-and-casualty (P&C) insurers increased 22 percent. The rise of digital means technology is no longer a cost center. Rather, it is an asset that, if managed well, can increase growth and profitability. But do these IT investments pay off? As the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbates already increasing cost pressures, insurers’ IT budgets are under scrutiny; they want to see the business impact of their IT investments. Insurers with targeted IT investments achieve better growth and performance Data from McKinsey’s Insurance 360° benchmarking survey provide strong evidence of the positive business impact of targeted IT investments. In fact, insurers that invest more in technology outpace competitors that don’t pursue targeted investments in business measures such as gross written premium (GWP) growth, return to shareholders, and expense and loss ratio (exhibit). As an example, in life insurance, companies that invested more in IT saw a greater reduction in expense ratios (by 2.0 percentage points) and higher returns on technical reserves2 (1.7 percentage points) when compared with insurers with lower IT investments. Insurers achieved these outcomes within three to five years of making their investments. For P&C insurers, those with high IT investments achieved approximately twice the top-line GWP growth of low IT investors. High IT investments also produced a greater reduction in combined ratios when compared with those with low IT investment. Four areas for targeted IT investment So what kinds of technology investments can help insurers achieve growth and improve productivity and performance? Investments in four areas are critical: Marketing and sales: Marketing technology solutions can increase sales and processing efficiency, improve the quality of core customer-facing processes such as policy inquiries and policy applications, and improve customers’ overall experiences. McKinsey’s Insurance 360° benchmarking data show that tech investments in this category can facilitate top-line growth for P&C insurers by up to 20–40 percent; for life insurers, that growth could be 10–25 percent over a three- to five-year period. Underwriting and pricing: Automated underwriting fraud detection can improve the likelihood that insurers correctly identify fraud and set accurate prices. A pricing tool kit that analyzes pricing across competitors and enables a flexible, more segmented market versus technical pricing further improves profit margins. Insurers that deploy these and other product, pricing, and underwriting technologies have seen improvements in their profit margins by 10–15 percent in P&C insurance and 3–5 percent in life insurance. Policy servicing: Workflow automation, artificial intelligence–based decision support, and user experience technologies in policy servicing and within IT can improve the customer self-service experience and automate back-office processes, thus reducing IT and operations expenses. And state-of-the-art self-servicing options will reduce processing times and even improve customer experience. An analysis of programs for large-scale insurance IT modernization finds that insurers that deploy these and other product, pricing, and underwriting technologies have seen improvements in their profit margins by 5–10 percent in P&C insurance and 10–15 percent in life insurance. Claims: P&C insurers can use automated case processing—machine-learning technology trained to process basic claims cases—to segment more complex cases and significantly improve claims accuracy. Combined with better partner integration and steering technologies embedded in a transformation of the claims operating model, such technologies can help P&C insurers improve profit margins by 25–40 percent, according to McKinsey analysis of large-scale IT modernization programs. To realize the full value of IT investments, insurers must strategically allocate their resources and view tech as an asset, not a tool.

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How AI is bringing the insurance industry into the future

Article | April 12, 2021

Technology is advancing every day, and it’s disrupting industries from retail to manufacturing to insurance. It has become increasingly apparent that AI, blockchain and machine learning have the power to transform the future of business and the way people work and live. These new technologies are already being applied in the insurance industry. Some insurance companies are using AI and machine learning to automate certain parts of the claims handling process and improve customer service. Blockchain is being used to detect fraud and prevent risk.

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3 MODERNIZATION OPTIONS FOR INSURERS

Article | April 12, 2021

The global outbreak of coronavirus has exposed an unpleasant truth: many insurers are stuck with legacy systems that prevent them from offering seamless digital experiences to their customers and/or employees. Even more damaging, they can’t lower operating costs at a time when claims are climbing, and margins are disappearing. This isn’t a momentary problem. As bleak as things seem at the moment, one day this crisis will be over…and property & casualty (P&C) providers will still seek to modernize to remain competitive. Reconciling this seemingly contradictory mission – how can an insurer reduce operating costs while providing a better experience?

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What’s Driving Innovation and Transformation in Insurance?

Article | April 12, 2021

According to Gartner analyst Kimberly Harris-Ferrante, in the report Innovation Insight for Artificial Intelligence in Life and P&C Insurance*, “Adoption and maturity of AI are increasing among insurance early adopters as they test new use cases and technologies. Insurance CIOs can benefit from greater awareness of AI fundamental use cases and the impact of AI to help guide innovation.” At Shift, we couldn’t agree more.

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